A French Couple Makes a Wish to a Miniature Benzaiten

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Date & Time: Tuesday, April 17, 9:15 am – 5:00 pm
Spots: Kotoku-in Temple (The Great Buddha), Hasedera Temple, and Komachidori Street in Kamakura
Visitors: A French couple
Attendant: 1 KSGG member
Language: French

The couple who joined my guided tour were perhaps in their 70’s. They said it was their fifth wedding anniversary, and the third marriage for each of them. They have their houses on the seashore and in the mountains, where they spend half a year alternately. Learning how French people enjoyed their lives made me jealous, but at the same time the air of freedom this couple had was contagious.

When they applied, their requests were Enoshima island sightseeing and a bicycle ride along the seaside. Unfortunately, on the scheduled day, it was cloudy with gusts of wind sweeping through. So we changed the tour plan. At first, I took them to Kotoku-in Temple (The Great Buddha). We climbed into the interior of the Great Buddha and saw the techniques used to create this statue. They were impressed by the colossal statue and said they could not believe the statue was constructed in the thirteenth century.

At Hasedera temple, they were attracted by the mysterious Benten-kutsu cave and took time to carefully see the inside of the cave. There was a little corner where little Benzaiten-shaped dolls were prepared. In front of this corner, I explained to them that they could write wishes on the dolls and offer them so that their wishes would come true. Right after this explanation, they wrote their wishes on the Benzaiten*1 dolls and offered them. They both wished for good health. They said, “Our wish is very simple, but it is important to live long lives.” Actually, they appeared to be such a healthy couple that they could live well over 100 years in good health without Benzaiten’s help. It was unexpected to me such a couple still wished for good health. However, they wanted to go to hospital since they each had a sore throat. I thought this might be a sign of travel fatigue. On our way to the hospital, it came home to me that health is important indeed to enjoy a life of freedom.

*1 A Japanese Buddhist goddess, who originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Benzaiten is known as a deity that brings benefits especially in the realms of art, music, performance and prosperity.